Tan France, one of the Fab Five on Netflix's "Queer Eye," said there's still room for brown representation in the media.
The UK is 'massively behind' the US when it comes to meaningful roles for brown actors, according to France.
France is Insider's latest digital cover star.
Tan France thinks his home country is "massively behind" the US when it comes to brown representation in the media.
France was born and raised in South Yorkshire, England, in a Muslim Pakistani family. Growing up, he said he didn't see South Asians playing meaningful roles on the screen. Instead, they were relegated to stereotypical caricatures, such as nerds who provided comedic relief, or cab-drivers with heavy accents.
That hasn't changed much in the UK — even though South Asians make up the largest minority group.
"When I put on the TV, I don't see us," France told Insider in June's digital cover story. "I think that the people in power don't believe our value."
South Asian entertainers are paving the way for more meaningful representation
France, who moved to the US 14 years ago, said he delighted in seeing the success of American shows like "Never Have I Ever" and "The Sex Lives of College Girls," both of which feature South Asian leads. He added that actors and entertainers like Mindy Kaling, Kumail Nanjiani, Hasan Minhaj, and Riz Ahmed have made huge strides in opening up representation of brown people in the media.
"We're showing that we can be the desirable lead and create a successful show," France said.
While there's still room for growth beyond token representation on both small and big screens, things have started to change, according to France.
"I think the difference now is that they're not there for the one line," he told Insider. "And when somebody says, 'Hey, we want you to play this caricature of this Asian or this character of a person,' I'm very comfortable saying, 'No, thank you very much. I don't need that. I don't need your money.'"
As one of the Fab Five on the massively popular reality show "Queer Eye," which has swept up nine Emmy awards since it premiered in 2018, France found the ability to choose how he represents himself.
"We are now in a position to say, 'We are just as valuable to you studios as any other white person.' That feels fantastic. I didn't ever think I would see it in my lifetime," France said.
Click here to read the full cover story with Tan France.
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